Getting Rid of Darkvision


Homebrew and House Rules


Hello,

I am currently going through a process of creating a fantasy campaign with an anachronistic tech/science level of about the 1900s, combined with magic/psionics.

I am writing up my racial entries from the perspective of a "Delver of Biology" (basically a professor) and I'm trying to make the races adhere to "Darvus Charwin's Theory of Evolution via Natural and Unnatural Selection".

Darkvision bugs me. It doesn't make physical sense. Infravision is too easy to exploit, so I don't want to go that route either.

So what I've decided to do is switch out darkvision for other "senses", but I need some opinions on balance.

In your opinions, what are some other senses that are about as powerful as darkvision?

I'm speaking of stuff like tremorsense, blindsense, blightsight, ect.

As an example, I am trying to explain dwarves by saying they evolved from a common ancestor with badgers. Hence I was considering giving them tremorsense. I could give them blindsight and be done with it, but I believe an intelligent humanoid would eventually figure out how to light stuff, and hence would either lose true echolocation or would have never evolved it to begin with. That and blindsight is like the holy grail of senses.

Any input is very appreciated. Also, if a thread already exists on this subject I apologize, I could not find it through search.


I think you can just replace darkvision with low-light vision and a +2 bonus on a skill, specific save or similar minor power, possibly :

Dwarves, low light vision +2 bonus on craft checks with stone or metal.

Half-orcs, low light vision and a +2 bonus on perception in areas of darkness.

Goblin, low-light vision, +2 bonus on save vs disease

Hobgoblin, low-light vision, +2 bonus to saves vs fear

Ogre, low-light vision, endurance feat

Outsiders, well I'd probably keep it for obviously otherworldy creatures

Minotaur, low-light vision, +2 vs mind-affecting effects

* I am slightly more inclined to boost inately more powerful creatures a bit more than standard creature, endurance might be slightly more powerful as is the bonus on mind-affecting effects for Ogre and Minotaur respectively but they are considerably more formidable already and it makes sense for them.


While I considered the low-light vision idea, I did want to retain some flavour related to race.

From a balance standpoint the LLV option is the easiest, but I also like the idea of player races with a variety of odd ways of hearing/seeing/sensing enemies.

It opens up interesting combinations where one player could have tremorsense while another has echolocation blindsense. One can "Detect" creatures in straight lines away from themselves while the other can detect walls and doors or creatures within "line of sight."

I'm just picturing diabolical games of marco-polo.


I remember a fair number of people arguing that LLV was stronger than darkvision, and the darkvision is only useful if you're splitting the party or everyone else has darkvision.

Sczarni

From the perspective of mechanics and game balance, tremorsense is a lot better than darkvision. It makes invisibility mostly useless against you.


Echolocation would make silence the new invisiblity in the dark.


Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:

Echolocation would make silence the new invisiblity in the dark.

That's what I figured. I could give creatures that rely on invisibility other abilities to counteract other senses.

For example, a creature who's environment is subterranean who used to have invisibility might instead have evolved silence, or a skin that diffuses sound which makes them invisible to echolocation specifically, or the ability to mask their scent, etc.

I would take a creature and go "What does it need, biologically, to survive and breed in an environment where intelligent hunters with blindsense exist."


I think Scent would work. Maybe Scent + a really small range of blind-sight. Say, 5ft blind sight. That way, you can fight creatures in total darkness, but they still retain some advantage at longer ranges.

You could also re-flavor/expand on dark-vision. Clearly, magic exists. Maybe dark-vision involves emitting some magical-particles and then seeing their reflection. You could say that these particles dissipate after a certain distance. Then to keep consistency, give dwarves something like Arcane Sight for free.


I was thinking of the magic possibilities too, as I am revolving the idea of evolution around natural and unnatrual selection. But with dwarves I messed around their racials to make them even more magic resistant, so the idea of them then having magical eye-sight seems odd, though that could work for some other species.

I am also just considering adding true infravision and just treating it like darkvision + a racial, as I would feel the need to include a bonus on tracking (due to seeing the heat foot prints) and whatever other advantages I figure infravision would impart.

Lantern Lodge

All darkvision is, is infravision. AKA seeing a different spectrum of light. Underground critters will evolve to see light that exists inb their environment(in this case infrared spectrum) or evolve to not see at all.

I don't what bugs you about darkvision other then you not knowing how it works(which I can easily clarify if desired) but if I knew more specifically what bothers you about I can be more helpfull with a solution.

How darkvision works:

Your eyes have cones in them that sense light. General cones sense the presence of a large section of the EM spectrum but color cones detect specific wave length. A creature with darkvision just has a 4th color that they can see, which corrospondes with the spectrum of light given off by objects at about room temp and slightly warmer.

Too hot and darkvision won't see it, too cold and darkvision won't see it.

I just as a guide say in my games that darkvision can see things from 0 degrees to 200 degrees F. So the drow can't see ice but can see the walls underground( temp can be around 120 + unless near underground river which cools things considerably).

This is why it is monochrome when there is no other light, because they are seeing only one color of the spectrum.

Don't get this confused with us seeing a multitude of colors all day, what we see are combonations of the three colors, yellow, blue, and red. Red is actually far away from blue and yellow(which are close together) on the spectrum, hence why red stands out from other colors.

Note did you know certain snakes actually have darkvision in real life? But they don't use their eyes, they have special non moving eyes for that color.

Also there is crab that can see 256 different color spectrums.

Scarab Sages

DarkLightHitomi wrote:

All darkvision is, is infravision. AKA seeing a different spectrum of light. Underground critters will evolve to see light that exists inb their environment(in this case infrared spectrum) or evolve to not see at all.

I don't what bugs you about darkvision other then you not knowing how it works(which I can easily clarify if desired) but if I knew more specifically what bothers you about I can be more helpfull with a solution.

** spoiler omitted **

Well said, the bigger problem in D&D is that creatures that evolved with darkvision should probably be functionally blind in bright light, or at least heavily penalized.


DarkLightHitomi wrote:

All darkvision is, is infravision. AKA seeing a different spectrum of light. Underground critters will evolve to see light that exists inb their environment(in this case infrared spectrum) or evolve to not see at all.

I don't what bugs you about darkvision other then you not knowing how it works(which I can easily clarify if desired) but if I knew more specifically what bothers you about I can be more helpfull with a solution.

** spoiler omitted **

From 3rd edition onward (and I think maybe 2e as well?), none of the above is true. It stopped being infravision a long time ago. It might be a nice idea if you are going to houserule it, but under normal Pathfinder, darkvision is more or less magic sight that is not counted as magic. You can see in the dark perfectly to a certain distance.


Fleshgrinder wrote:

I was thinking of the magic possibilities too, as I am revolving the idea of evolution around natural and unnatrual selection. But with dwarves I messed around their racials to make them even more magic resistant, so the idea of them then having magical eye-sight seems odd, though that could work for some other species.

I am also just considering adding true infravision and just treating it like darkvision + a racial, as I would feel the need to include a bonus on tracking (due to seeing the heat foot prints) and whatever other advantages I figure infravision would impart.

Heat foot-prints would fade quickly. You can probably use the scent rules for tracking. Though obviously you'd need to figure out how to mask heat. (asbestos boots?)

Other than that, I think you could just use the rules for light and treat living creatures ant flames as "light sources." Say a humanoid sheds infra-light as a torch. Bam. Infra-vision. Though this may be too powerful in the sense that you'd be able to see creatures very far away in darkness.

Maybe you could say that infra-vision races are very sensitive to high-intensity heat signatures, so that they can tell facial features apart. However, they are not very sensitive to low-intensity infra-light, so they can't see a humanoid from 300 ft away.


we house ruled it that darkvision was inverted vision the eyes just developed weird so that dark was seen as light and light as dark, creatures that lived in both worlds, like dwarves, evolved so their eyes would go back and forth between the two, but we gave them all the downside that abrupt exposure to light or dark would take 3 rounds for their eyes to adjust, giving them -6, -4, -2 to everything based on site for those three rounds. made for some interesting fighting, and might help with your evolution theme.


Jal Dorak wrote:

Well said, the bigger problem in D&D is that creatures that evolved with darkvision should probably be functionally blind in bright light, or at least heavily penalized.

Actually, pit vipers, named so for small pits under their eyes that allow them to "see" heat (most people think they're called pit vipers because they live in pits) have no issue seeing in sunlight as it uses a completely different set of "eyes" to see heat.

Some larger constrictor type snakes also have this, but their heat sensing organ is kind of on their upper "lip".

They can also track a rodent's foot print days after it was left.

They're one of the very few real life animals to evolve infravision.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

Consider replacing "Darkvision" with "night vision," (think night vision goggles) and allowing dwarves to treat the light levels in any given area as though they were one step brighter.

They still suffer from concealment issues in total darkness, but can see perfectly in dim light. If you feel that ability is too powerful, increase the distance penalties on Perception checks for dwarves, or give them light sensitivity or light blindness. Or do both.


Just out of curiosity, what would you guys rank the different visions/senses in order of power?

Scarab Sages

Fleshgrinder wrote:
Just out of curiosity, what would you guys rank the different visions/senses in order of power?

Blindsight

Blindsense
Telepathy
Tremorsense
Scent
Darkvision
Low-light Vision
Normal Vision

Tremorsense and Scent are very close - both have limited functionality, but in certain situations are as good as Blindsense. I rank Tremorsense higher only because it is less limited.


if your trying to do this from a totally evolutionary point of view i would say that your two best options would be that

infrared scene like pit-vipers
bio-luminescence which combines with low light vision.
Echo-location (which can be done with vocal sounds or possibly with a special organ which produces ultra high or ultra low frequency sounds)

tremmorsense seems a poor choice to me except in a liquid environment or an animal like a snake with a large portion of body surface available to receive signals.

everything else seems too magical to work as an evolutionary adaptation.

having said that some sea animals like sharks have developed a 3rd sence which basically allows them to see electrical impulses. the ability seems to have an accuracy closer to smell than to sight but you can ramp that up to a blindsight like ability if that works for you.


On the other hand in a setting with magic that is not inherently beyond the reach of animal intelligence creatures being able to use or perceive magic are both survival traits.


I like the bio-luminescence idea. Have the species eyes produce a light of a spectrum that only it and other creatures with darkvision can see.

It would have the added effect of allowing darkvision creatures see each other coming due to seeing big glowing flashlights coming out of their eyes.

This would possibly mean some creatures evolved to turn it off as well.

Could be a lot like a specific deep sea fish who is the only fish at its depth that can see the colour red, and it has a giant red spotlight on its face, so it's like having a spotlight no one but you can see.

Lantern Lodge

Umbral Reaver wrote:
DarkLightHitomi wrote:

All darkvision is, is infravision. AKA seeing a different spectrum of light. Underground critters will evolve to see light that exists inb their environment(in this case infrared spectrum) or evolve to not see at all.

I don't what bugs you about darkvision other then you not knowing how it works(which I can easily clarify if desired) but if I knew more specifically what bothers you about I can be more helpfull with a solution.

** spoiler omitted **

From 3rd edition onward (and I think maybe 2e as well?), none of the above is true. It stopped being infravision a long time ago. It might be a nice idea if you are going to houserule it, but under normal Pathfinder, darkvision is more or less magic sight that is not counted as magic. You can see in the dark perfectly to a certain distance.

Maybe I missed it, but I don't recall seeing anything official that says what it can or can't do, I gave my explanation of what makes sense and science (I figured they just changed the name to sound better)

If you know of official stuff about it ,I would like a link just to see what other ridiculous things designers are including these days.


DarkLightHitomi wrote:
Umbral Reaver wrote:
DarkLightHitomi wrote:

All darkvision is, is infravision. AKA seeing a different spectrum of light. Underground critters will evolve to see light that exists inb their environment(in this case infrared spectrum) or evolve to not see at all.

I don't what bugs you about darkvision other then you not knowing how it works(which I can easily clarify if desired) but if I knew more specifically what bothers you about I can be more helpfull with a solution.

** spoiler omitted **

From 3rd edition onward (and I think maybe 2e as well?), none of the above is true. It stopped being infravision a long time ago. It might be a nice idea if you are going to houserule it, but under normal Pathfinder, darkvision is more or less magic sight that is not counted as magic. You can see in the dark perfectly to a certain distance.

Maybe I missed it, but I don't recall seeing anything official that says what it can or can't do, I gave my explanation of what makes sense and science (I figured they just changed the name to sound better)

If you know of official stuff about it ,I would like a link just to see what other ridiculous things designers are including these days.

I don't think they were saying you can't do whatever your want, but they were correct. As of 3rd edition, Infravision was replaced with Darkvision. The "official" way that dark vision is represented was found in the 3rd edition DMG or PHB and it basically looked like white lines representing details on with all surfaces being black.

Like a black and white pencil drawing with no shading but the paper is black and the pencil is white.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

I removed a post. Let's lay off the veiled insults.


Not to quibble, but....

DarkLightHitomi said wrote:

Too hot and darkvision won't see it, too cold and darkvision won't see it.

I just as a guide say in my games that darkvision can see things from 0 degrees to 200 degrees F. So the drow can't see ice but can see the walls underground

Water freezes at 32F, and boils at 212F. So, creatures would be able to see ice, but steam and boiling water would be invisible.

If infra vision were synonymous with infrared (thermal) technology, then there would be a range of hues that would represent everything from the coolest to warmest object that was detected. IR has a rubbish range though before signal saturation overrides resolution.

Also, IR would detect creatures under the protection of Invisibilty, since it relies on detecting the emission of infra red radiation not the reflection of light waves.

Lantern Lodge

It was not intended to be insulting, sorry

Infra red is light though, the only difference is that hot objects would be the source, so you wouldn't see the invisible creature, just like the rules for invisible light sources. But at temps that low they wouldn't likely put off enough heat to reflect enough to locate where the invisible creature is exactly, just a general place similar to scent.

Of course the spell might hide that however.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Homebrew and House Rules / Getting Rid of Darkvision All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.